Mar 022014

It has become increasingly hard for school districts today provide the high level of education we expect of them. The ever-changing guidelines and requirements they face from both the state and federal level can be difficult to achieve when schools are receiving less and less funding from both. The burden of funding our schools falls on the local towns and, by default, homeowners. While no homeowner/voter wants to see our school district or children give up any part of their education the reality is that the well has run dry. Our district is out of money. That being said some tough choices face our school committee. Taxes alone are not going to cover the 2.7 million dollar deficit they are facing.

I would like to point out that I look on this crisis a little differently than others. My family has lived in Groton for under a year, relocating from Pennsylvania. I am aware that my thoughts are unpopular in some ways, but I feel an “outside” opinion may be helpful.

My first and most mind boggling issue with our school district is the funding of an early childhood education center. Before moving to MA, I could not even fathom the idea of our tax dollars going to fund a preschool. Before moving here I had never heard of such a thing. Preschools are privately funded and parents pay to send child at their expense. I have read over the budget proposal and I cannot seem to find out how much income the Boutwell Early Childhood Education Center brings in. I have looked at schools in Westford and Chelmsford and both districts charge a fee for their public preschools, while that may not cover the full operating cost it does at least help. (I’m not stating that the Boutwell school is completely free, only that I have not found information stating otherwise.) According to the budget proposal, the Boutwell school has an operating budget of over $500,000, with 26% of that going to the principal’s office. How is it possible that a publicly funded school that for FY2015 has only 57 projected students take precedent over the education of our k-12 graders?

On the cuts offered by the school I see our middle school foreign language listed. To put some prospective on this the fiscal budget lists 6 foreign language courses in the middle school servicing a program population of 736 students. The savings list on the reduction scenarios is only $183,000. That being said we are putting over $500,000 out for only 57 nonschool age children? I find that inconceivable. 736 students will possibly lose out on a course that is required on college applications while 57 small children will continue receive a free preschool education.

Thank you,
Carolyn Cullip